Curtains Open to the Padgett Era


Junior Elise Varoli describes Ms. Padgett as ‘communicative, kind, and creative.’”(Photo by Josh Cofie)

Enter stage left: Wilde Lake graduate, seasoned technical director, and history teacher of 13 years, Ms. Jessica Padgett.

This year, Ms. Padgett filled the role of Wilde Lake’s theater director, left open by her former teacher and mentor, Ms. Adler, who retired in 2022 after 32 years of service. 

As a student at Wilde Lake, Ms. Padgett found her love for the stage under the direction of Ms. Tracy Adler. After high school, she earned a degree in History at Salisbury University, where she continued to participate in theater through cabarets and theater classes.

Ms. Padgett and her brother, Robert Padgett, posing in costume for the 2001 Wilde Lake production of Damn Yankees. (Photo courtesy of Jessica Padgett)

In 2016, she transferred from Anne Arundel County to Howard County to teach Social Studies at Harper’s Choice Middle School. During this time, she also took on the role of directing performances for the middle school’s theater arts club. In 2019, she joined Wilde Lake High School as a History teacher where she mentored under Ms. Adler as Wilde Lake’s technical director.

This year, Ms. Padgett made her directorial debut at Wilde Lake with the play “Almost, Maine” — a romantic comedy set in a fictional Maine town. In the spring, Ms. Padgett will direct her first musical at Wilde Lake, “Legally Blonde.”

Wilde Lake Class of 2022 graduate Nate Mancuso, now a freshman at Hofstra University, knew Ms. Padgett while she was technical director. In his senior year and Ms. Padgett’s last year as technical director at Wilde Lake, he helped run the tech crew.

“[Ms. Padgett] is probably the most down-to-earth teacher I ever encountered, even though I never had her as an official teacher,” said Nate.

“If you had an idea, you could bring it up with Ms. Padgett,” said senior actor Danielle Sumaryo who has worked with Ms. Padgett for four years.

Actor Hamza Zibdeh, a senior, says that he sees Ms. Padgett’s positivity reflected in her communication with actors. “She can quickly adjust to people’s needs, and she can tell when you don’t understand what she wants from you,” he said.

Part of Ms. Padgett’s character as director is reliability, according to assistant stage manager and production crew co-head junior Gabby Oshadiya. “She is a positive light that was brought to the show in all aspects,” said Gabby. “She is the person that if you ever need anything, you can go straight to her.”

During “Almost, Maine,” Ms. Padgett worked closely with the actors to help them understand their scenes. Senior Ben Domenick-Urbansky, who starred as Chad in the play, said she is able to read the actors well.

The cast of Almost, Maine taking a bow after 3 months of preparation and rehearsals with Ms. Padgett as director. (Photo by Robert Padgett)

“You can tell she cares about what you’re doing, and she thinks about what could make the scene better,” said Ben.

In his scene in “Almost, Maine,” Ben played a “country bumpkin” who later admits his love for his best friend. Ben says that with planning from Ms. Padgett, he was able to “become [the] character.”

Ben says that he enjoyed his scene from the start, but with Padgett’s direction, it grew into something “better and better.” Ben says that Ms. Padgett would have him repeat his scene with his co-star Hamza, not only for memorization but to develop the scene into “the best it could be.”

“She would listen to our ideas and interpret them to create the scene in a way that would give the audience a laugh, something to ponder over, or just a small bit of sympathy,” said Ben.

Junior actor Elise Varoli  says the environment Ms. Padgett creates with her directorial style has been a welcomed addition to the theater community. “She will explain things to you and take your feedback,” she said.

“I’m happy for her. It’s an amazing opportunity,” said Gabby. “I can’t wait to see what she does with it because I know she’s gonna be great at it.”